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Query letters are supposed to be catchy, succinct, and intriguing. They’re also a pain in the ass to write. As I prepare to sell my manuscript, Bite Somebody, I must first prepare a dreaded query letter. That’s where you come in.

Kindly read the following query letter and tell me if it a) makes you wanna read my book and b) flows and/or makes sense. If all goes well, maybe I’ll mention you in the Acknowledgments.

Bite Somebody Query Letter: First Draft

All Celia wanted was her first bite and a cute boyfriend.

She expected her life to change when she became a vampire, but she’s the same chubby, awkward Pretty Woman-loving girl she’s always been. Abandoned by her maker, the opportunity for change arrives in the form of Ian, her new neighbor at Florida’s Sleeping Gull Apartments.

Ian is a goofy ex-surfer who likes Jeopardy and, to her surprise, Celia. Despite the nagging of Imogene, her only vampire friend, Celia can’t get her fangs to go “boing” at the right time, and her first bite seems less and less attainable.

When Ian makes his romantic move, Danny, Celia’s jerk of a creator, returns for a favor. He wants to harvest Ian’s human blood, because Ian’s blood smells like Christmas wrapped in bacon and they could make a fortune. But the last thing Celia wants is her cute boyfriend dead.

Bite Somebody: A Bloodsucker’s Diary is a 75,000 word YA paranormal romance parody set at the beach, and nothing and nobody are what they seem.

My name is Sara Dobie Bauer. I’m a vampire enthusiast and fan of Christopher Moore and Gregory Maguire. I earned my creative writing degree from Ohio University and am the official book nerd at SheKnows.com. My short fiction has appeared in The Molotov Cocktail, Stoneslide Corrective, and Solarcide.

A full synopsis and manuscript are available upon request. Intelligent vampire fans who don’t take themselves at all seriously thank you.

skydiving
A friend of mine was a pilot who served his country well. Due to his experience, he never understood why someone would pay to go skydiving. In his words: “Why would you jump out of a perfectly good plane?”

My tandem mate Tod asked me this same question last week at Skydive Phoenix as I prepared to do just that. Why? Why would I choose to jump out of a plane at eight thousand feet? I wish I had a good answer, but as I told Tod’s nifty video camera, “I was bored.”

Now, I realize most so-called “normal human beings” wouldn’t get bored and decide to plummet toward Earth with a bag on their back, but you know me: I’m the girl who swam with sharks in Belize; who loves haunted houses and cemeteries at night. I’m the girl who likes to be scared.

When I arrived at Skydive Phoenix Thursday morning, I felt immediately at home. I was surrounded by people younger than me who seemed to be having a damn fine time just hangin’ together. I met Tod, who reminded me of a rock band roadie mixed with a Southern Florida surfer dude. Turns out he was from Ohio. As I chose my Ohio University “House Beer” t-shirt for my jump, we hit it off immediately.

There was little prep work. Sure, I signed all the paperwork that said Jake couldn’t sue anyone if I ended up a pancake. Then, I put on a harness, and we walked to a plane the size of an SUV. The video camera (strapped to Tod’s wrist) came along, and Tod kept asking, “Nervous yet?” Should I be concerned that I wasn’t?

The itty-bitty plane climbed to eight thousand feet. Tod and I were strapped together as we slid to the open door. My last moment of clarity: With my left foot outside the plane, I stared down at the desert below. Then, we jumped.

I can’t say the free fall is clear. I don’t exactly remember the way my body felt, and my mind was blown blank by adrenaline. I think I was screaming (we’ll see once I get the video tape back). What I can say with assurance: the free fall was over much too fast.

As we swung above the earth, tethered to our parachute, the first thing that came to mind: “I need to do this again.”

I had a perfect landing (thank you very much), and I felt like my spirit was still eight thousand feet high. The cool chick at the Skydive Phoenix office confirmed my belief that after skydiving, there are two things that should happen: a cigarette and sex.

I have to thank the team at Skydive Phoenix for making my experience so easy, enjoyable, and fun (including the guy who said he was going to undertake his hundredth jump nude. Now, that would be something to see!). Tod was the perfect crazy person to be tied to, and I already have intentions to do a thirteen thousand-foot jump in the near future.

There’s something about doing irresponsible things that makes me feel alive. Since my jump, all sorts of people have called me crazy for doing it, but I think they’re just jealous they don’t have the balls to let go. Do something that scares you. Do something that makes you freak. Stop working and wake up for a second. Find your own “plane,” and make the jump.

In 2013, director/writer Therese Shechter released the shocking documentary How to Lose Your Virginity. I wasn’t shocked by words like “hymen” or “penis.” I was shocked by our country’s ignorance.

Therese waited longer than most to have sex. When she finally decided to “do it,” she said, “It wasn’t so much because I had found Mr. Right but because I had grown tired of waiting for him.” It was in that moment, in a basement apartment, that Therese realized all the hype about losing her virginity really was just hype. There was no earth shattering before and after. She was still Therese, but she was Therese who’d once had a penis inside her.

The hype surrounding virginity is really a problem. I’m not saying losing your virginity is something to rush into. I waited until I was twenty-seven, and thank God, because I was finally mature enough by then to deal with sex’s ramifications. Thanks to How to Lose Your Virginity, though, I see how insane America is about purity and the unfortunately clichéd theory of “saving yourself.”

How_to_Lose_Your_Virginity,_Official_DOC_NYC_Poster,_Nov_2013Did you know there are “Purity Balls?” In these ceremonies, seven- and eight-year-old girls metaphorically hand their virginity off to their fathers who will then someday hand that gift off to the girl’s husband. Antiquated (and frankly, creepy) practices like this are the reason girls get married so young: so they can finally have sex.

According to the film, one in six American girls take purity pledges. There’s even a Purity Pledge Facebook page. States are financially rewarded for teaching abstinence-only sex education, the product of which seems to be more teens having sex but being stupid about it. I’m all for waiting, but the way we’re educating teens about sex is just making things worse. Abstinence-only education is the sexual equivalent of Hitler burning books.

In How to Lose Your Virginity, Therese does an amazing job of interviewing varied and well-informed sources. She talks to magazine editors, sex educators, and a man on his way to becoming a woman. I was really impressed, honestly, with the creator of the porn series Barely Legal: a woman who had a horrible first sexual experience at the age of thirteen who now uses Barely Legal to rescript a woman’s first time into something sexy and passionate instead of awkward and uncomfortable.

Therese addresses the idea of virgin versus slut. She also questions what defines “virgin” anyway? She looks at the development of history and how patriarchal motifs have made women into objects to own, just as our virginity is something we “give away” like a birthday gift.

How to Lose Your Virginity is not blatantly sexual. It is not offensive. It is true and powerful. At certain points, I was laughing. At other points, I was wrathful. For instance, one abstinence avowing psychopath said she did support gays being abstinent, as well, until marriage … but since her organization did not believe in gay marriage, gay people have to be celibate their entire lives. One young man was asked the reasonable number of sexual partners to have in a lifetime. According to him, men could have as many as they wanted, while women could only have five.

This documentary will rile you up as well as inform you. I suggest it to anyone—women and men alike—who believe in sexual freedom. As Therese says, instead of “giving up” our virginity, let’s give up our myths about virginity. Preach, sister.

For more info, visit http://www.virginitymovie.com. Also, please check out this amazingly informative website for youth: http://www.scarleteen.com.

The Molotov Cocktail is self-described as “A Projectile for Incendiary Flash Fiction.” Understand I don’t usually write flash fiction, but something about the magazine: the look, the content, the attitude … I had to be part of it.

The perfect opportunity arrived when we had a garage sale two weeks ago, and I realized I hate garage sales. While sitting there, watching people dig through my belongings, I wrote an essay with only Molotov Cocktail in mind. Blessing of blessings, they accepted it.

For your deviant enjoyment, The Molotov Cocktail presents “You Need My Shit.” (Oh, you really do.)

You Need My Shit
by Sara Dobie Bauer

My husband suggested I keep my revolver in a little box during our garage sale just in case. It never occurred to me to be worried about people robbing my African statue that looks like it’s taking a shit.

Seven AM in Phoenix feels like living in a stove set to three-fifty. People show up and dig through piles of clothes I used to wear. Strange the things you remember, like how I once posed for a female friend’s camera in that corset with the red skull on the front.

There’s this one guy who shows up in a suit and tie. He laughs when I tell him he’s overdressed. He’s too friendly. I think about my revolver in the little shoebox at my side. Then, he goes into his Jehovah’s Witness spiel, and I think about the gun even more.

(So do I really get to shoot anyone? Read on at Molotov Cocktail‘s website, Volume 5, Issue 11.)

Photo credit: Boise Daily Photo

Photo credit: Boise Daily Photo

I’m not one for Johnlock. (I’m an Irene Adler/Sherlock Holmes sort of girl. As Benedict Cumberbatch would say, “I like to be the dominant one.”) That said, I think the Sherlock/John Watson friendship is incredible. Here’s a short little ditty about what happens when Sherlock takes a bullet for John and John demands Sherlock make a promise he can never keep.

Promise
by Sara Dobie Bauer

I race around a back alley corner, Sherlock behind me. It’s rare that he’s behind me, but Lestrade held him back to shout a warning as I took off running after our man. The suspect may have murdered two women. He got away from us once; he will not get away again.

I feel my gun in the pocket of my coat, but I don’t take it out—not yet. Having something in my hand will only slow me down, and I like being in front for once. I can hear Sherlock behind me, the tap of his dress shoes on pavement. I’ve often wondered how the man runs with such speed in dress shoes. Then again, he does everything like a cat: jump, perch, sprint. He’s the human equivalent of a cheetah.

The sun has almost set, but my eyes are quick to adjust to dim light. I acquired quite a few things in the war, the least of which was a bullet wound. My reflexes are faster, my vision, keener. I hear things other people don’t—like the sound of fumbling footsteps ahead, for instance.

We’ve got him. He won’t shoot another woman dead. As I rush past a dumpster, only now do I pull my weapon. Best to be careful. We know the suspect is armed.

I round another corner. There is a dark shape ten feet ahead of me, frozen in place, blocked by a tall chain link fence. I move to aim, but the suspect already has me in his sights. The world slows.

In Afghanistan, I had no time to prepare for being shot. The bullet hit me in the shoulder like a heavy raindrop. There was no pain, only a dull knowledge that something was wrong. I have time now to prepare. I have time to wince at the sound of the gun going off. I have time to pull my own trigger, but I’m seconds too late. I know that.

Instead of the expected thud and ache of a bullet wound, I see black. I wonder if I’ve been killed. Is this death? No, I don’t suppose death has weight, but there is a weight against me: a heavy, long-limbed weight in a black coat. Only when I hear him moan, softly, do I realize I have Sherlock pressed against me. He slouches until my arms hold him around the chest.

“Sherlock.”

“Nice shot.”

I take steps back until I have Sherlock on the ground. He’s talking about my shot. The suspect is dead, ten feet in front of us. Sherlock’s eyes stare at the sky. His breath puffs out in labored wheezes, and this is not due to our chase. I have a horrible fear that Sherlock Holmes just took a bullet for me.

Read the rest at FanFiction.net.

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(Amazing fan art credit: sheWolf294)

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I was once thrown into the Salt River by a guy named Damian. I forgave this because he is a cool dude with good taste in movies. Then, I heard he was doing something REALLY COOL that did not involve throwing women into rivers.

Damian will be embarking on a one-year, 19,000-mile bike trip from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, all the way to the bottom of the world: Ushuaia, Argentina. He will be doing this solo ride to help raise public awareness of the benefits that regular exercise offers to those battling mental illness. He will raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, specifically their “Hearts and Minds” campaign.

As a diagnosed depressive, how could I not get behind this project? Damian already has two amazing sponsors: Caledonia Spirits and Hero Apicus Nutrition. They’ve been a huge help, but he still needs more funding to make this trip happen.

To donate, head to Damian’s GoFundMe site. For more about this super cool dude and his mission to support mental health awareness, read on …

An H and Five Ws with NAMI Advocate Damian Reusch

How did you come up with the idea for this solo bike adventure?

I wanted to undertake what I considered to be a transformative journey, one that would compare with the “Great American” adventures that used to fill novels and dime store magazines, before advancements in technology seemingly shrank the world to a more user-friendly size.

I have always felt, as the world I live in became more and more connected, a sense of increasing disconnection. I have longed for an experience that will allow me to rediscover the awe I knew as a child, the wonder and fascination I only knew from the books I read and a life I imagined. I have grown tired of living inwardly, with the incessant concern for professional and personal growth … I wanted to live outwardly for a bit, to have focus on a goal outside my personal narrative and perhaps in the process bring back some measure of connection through its fulfillment.

I decided to choose a charity that I felt a connection with and endeavor to begin a journey that people could identify with, and be excited by. People love a story, and though there are fewer today, they especially love adventure stories. I thought that would be an interesting way to try to rekindle people’s spirit of fascination with the world at large, while at the same time raise money for an important and often overlooked cause. The Pan American Highway is the world’s longest motorable road… so why not ditch the car and bike it?

What is your inspiration?

1925082_10201560427799717_1763726457_nMy greatest inspiration is the world as a whole. I remember a few years ago, I was in Austin visiting some friends. They took me to an overlook that was situated over a river next to a roadway. I imagine most people climb up there for a view of a sunset, or the rolling hills, or the slowly crawling river below … but I couldn’t take my eyes off the road and the cars driving on it.

I had been thinking a lot about the idea of a personal narrative, how we are all the stars of our own story, and how constrictive that mentality can be. I began to imagine a sort of story board, drawn like a circuit with lines extending out of each passenger. Each line led to a box, each box splintered into another possibility, and each possibility splintered to another and so on … constantly changing with each passing second, constantly evolving, fracturing, and expanding outward.

That is the world I wish to see, so I see it. An explosion of stories, intertwining and unraveling at every moment, most of it unobserved potential. My narrative became less interesting knowing all that potential was out there waiting for a catalyst to bring so much to fruition.

A trip like this will most likely not bring any measure of “traditional” success, but it will drop me in the center of that stew of unrealized story lines.

What do you hope to achieve?

I hope to have an incredible journey, to experience the world in its most raw form, to meet incredible people and for a moment experience their story. I hope to raise money for a great cause that benefits people who in their own way may feel as lost or disconnected as myself.

Where are you most excited to go?

Ushuaia, Argentina. That will mean I have completed the journey successfully.

When did you realize you had you own mental health issues?

I realized at a very young age. It manifested itself as a reaction to the profound disappointment I had in the people around me, in their inability to see the long view, the larger picture. I became frustrated at first, slowly mired in anger, then boom. I was diagnosed with what is called Intermittent Explosive Disorder. I have never been medicated. I have always found that all of my frustration can be mitigated through an active lifestyle. At times I am obsessively active; at times I struggle. But I am lucky in that I know what I need to maintain a positive balance. That is why I relate so well to the NAMI “Hearts and Minds” Campaign.

Why is mental health so important?

Throughout history, mental illness has been treated like possession or witchcraft, rather than like an illness, which is why it still carries the stigma it does today. The brain is an organ, but it is an organ we lack critical understanding of. That lack of understanding can lead to confusion and eventual disassociation rather than acceptance and healing. We are a thousand steps behind where we should be with regard to the treatment of mental illness, and we are there because of the lack of an open dialogue. The first step is to drive awareness. Mental health should be no more taboo than an infection or a genetic disorder.

I am so, so proud of Damian’s mission. It’s time we all supported him and mental health awareness. Head to GoFundMe right now and become part of the solution. Thank you!

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